International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s theme is #PressforProgress. By continuing to press forward, we can turn the momentum of this movement into an unstoppable force for positive change. According to IWD, #PressforProgress is a strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive. In honor of this day, we sat down with some of our Matter employees to find out about the women who have influenced their professional lives.
Assistant General Manager at Prouts Neck Association
As a 23-year-old, newly minted econ and poly sci double major with no intention of going to law school, I was working nights and weekends as a case worker at a residential program for violent-aggressive boys. Clearly, a career in marketing was in my future!
While I didn’t have the pedigree, I always had an interest in marketing. Thanks to my mom, I got an internship at Agfa (case working doesn’t exactly pay the bills). I was later made aware of a marketing position in a different division.
Enter Robin. Smart, accomplished, boisterous and with a laugh that can heal the sick, she was willing to take a chance on me, despite my lack of credentials. While we only worked together for a year, Robin was instrumental in laying the foundation for my entire career.
She gave me assignments that pushed me, but always provided just enough encouragement and input to succeed. She let me make the mistakes so crucial to learning, but helped me clean up after them (and made it clear they shouldn’t happen again!).
She encouraged me to experiment, be creative and never once acted like she had all the answers.
She taught me that standing up for what was right and treating people with respect matters just as much in the workplace as out.
She taught me that character matters more than credentials.
Thank you, Robin, for taking a chance on me – and setting me on the course for success. While it’s been too long since we’ve connected, I remain more grateful than I could ever express!
Jennifer Karin Sidford
VP of Precision at Matter / Middlebury
It’s not often that you get to work with one of your role models. When I started at Matter two years ago, I got to do exactly that: work alongside one of the most poised, well-spoken and smart women I have ever met, Jennifer Karin Sidford. I’ve known Jennifer for quite a few years — in fact, I used to babysit her boys.Her grace and kindness has always struck me as one to emulate. Upon starting at Matter, I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that I’m not the only one who looks up to this strong, beautiful and courageous woman. Jennifer is not only a published author, she’s an accomplished PR pro, dedicated mother and caring friend. She taught me about what it means to be true to yourself, to trust your instincts and to believe in the value of hard work. On top of all that, she’s a die-hard feminist and activist who speaks her truth proudly and strongly. If that doesn’t constitute a real-world hero, then I don’t know what does!
Sister Margaret Ann Laechelin
Principal at Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School
After Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on Miami, Sister Margaret Ann picked up a chainsaw to help open a road blocked by a fallen tree. She had never used a chainsaw before, but knew she needed to jump in and help any way she could. I am inspired by the Sister’s resourcefulness and can-do attitude, as so much of our professional success depends on those two factors. I keep a photo of Sister Margaret Ann (with chainsaw in hand) on my desktop to keep me charging forward. Fallen trees, beware!
Marketing Manager at First Insight (previously Matter)
I worked closely with Emma when I first started at Matter, and she quickly became my professional role model. She has an impressive knowledge of PR and the industries she works in, always took the time to guide me and share her invaluable feedback. Emma is a prime case of leading by example and doing what she can to help other women succeed.
President/CEO of The Council on Foundations
My mom has had such a tremendous impact on my professional life. Ever since my sister and I were little, we watched her pursue her passions (personal and professional) with incredible tenacity and grace. It is because of her influence that I can attack my goals to get me where I am today. I’m grateful for her support in everything that I do and hope to return the favor someday!
Associate Professor of Communication at Endicott College
Professor Allen, my teacher, advisor and faculty club leader, has been one of the biggest influences in my professional life. From my first day of class in Advertising 101, to advising the creation of my portfolio for job applications, she was there to support me throughout my entire college career.
One specific memory I have is from my junior year at the National Student Advertising Competition. Our team had planned and worked for months, and it all came down to one presentation in front of an audience and esteemed panel of judges. As I stepped onto the stage, I froze. She knew something was wrong and immediately grabbed me, looked me in the eyes and said, “you can do this.” I went back up, shook off the nerves and presented without a flaw. Thank you, Sara Allen, for being more than just a professor and leaving a long-lasting, great impression on all of your students.
Vice President, Human Resources at Comcast
My mom is the most influential female role model in both my professional and personal life. She is strong, smart, driven, poised, generous … I could go on and on, this woman does it all! She taught me the value of persistence and hard work, the art of negotiation, effective and confident communication, and the power of a well-crafted to-do list. My mom is a successful, savvy businesswoman with a big job that demands a lot of time and attention, and yet somehow, she always finds time to be the most present and supportive mom. She is someone I admire beyond measure and as a female professional, I am profoundly lucky to have such a positive example to learn from.
Dr. Susan Russell
Associate Professor, Penn State University
Ever since my first class with her, Dr. Susan Russell taught me to see the world differently. She preached three important life rules: remove denigrating language from our vocabulary, make eye contact and choose not to go to war (with yourself and others). It was these three pillars that began to tear down the walls of the world around me and open my eyes to a new set of values. I realized the potential of a single person and the power within all of us to make an impact. When you have passion for what you are doing, the results are monumental. I channel these values at work every day and seek out the moments, both big and small, where my passions and professional skills intersect. As an actress, educator and activist, Dr. Russell was the most influential professor I had the pleasure of learning from and continues to be a resourceful mentor to me in my professional career.
– Erin Brooks